HONOLULU (Nov. 27, 2013) – There are the obvious advantages of playing in Hawaii.
While it was in the 30s in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, it was in the 80s in the nation’s 50th state. And instead of seeing the sun set over a Purina plant near the Oklahoma Christian campus, OC women’s basketball players already have seen it set over the Pacific Ocean at Waikiki Beach.
There certainly is on-the-court business to take care of while the Lady Eagles are in Honolulu – with games Thursday and Friday in the Oahu Classic at McKinley High School – but OC coach Stephanie Findley also wants her squad to take advantage of an opportunity not afforded to most teams.
“We are here to build memories and experience a different culture,” Findley said. “I love learning about the people and their history. I hope the girls do, too. Regardless, though, they are making special memories. Today we walked up to Diamond Head to watch the sunrise and will go to Pearl Harbor later. We will also do a luau later in the week.”
The Lady Eagles’ visit to Hawaii is a program first. OC’s men’s basketball team made three trips to Hawaii in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but no OC squad in any sport has played there since December 1982.
Findley had wanted to take teams to Hawaii before, but the dates usually available for NAIA teams to play there almost always conflicted with OC’s final exams. But different dates were available for NCAA Division II programs, so once OC began the Division II membership process before the 2012-13 academic year, such a trip became a distinct possibility.
Besides the cultural opportunities, another advantage of playing in Hawaii is that games played there are exempt from regular NCAA Division II scheduling rules, which allows the Lady Eagles to squeeze more games into their schedule this season.
OC (3-3) will play Hawaii Pacific on Thursday at 9 p.m. Central time and Chaminade (Hawaii) at 9 p.m. Central time on Friday, the first time the Lady Eagles ever have played a team from the Aloha State.
Findley knows little about either team. Hawaii Pacific will be playing its season opener after going 19-7 last season. The Sea Warriors and Lady Eagles did have one common opponent last season in California Baptist. Cal Baptist beat Hawaii Pacific 87-71 in Hawaii during PacWest Conference play, then beat OC 98-86 in the National Christian College Athletic Association national semifinals in Winona Lake, Ind.
Hawaii Pacific is led by senior forward Skye Savini, a preseason All-PacWest honoree who averaged 13.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season. The Sea Warriors were picked to finish fourth in the 13-team PacWest.
Chaminade (0-2) was picked to finish last in the PacWest. The Silverswords have dropped a pair of home games this season, losing to Alaska 76-60 and Alaska-Anchorage 93-57. Freshman guard Angela Rigo leads Chaminade in scoring at 9.0 points per game, while senior guard Glacen Florita is averaging 8.5 points and 8.5 rebounds through two games.
OC won its first three games of the season but has lost three straight, all on the road against quality opponents – Colorado State-Pueblo and Heartland Conference rivals St. Mary’s (Texas) and Texas A&M International. Senior forward Roz Hamilton is averaging 14.2 points and 9.0 rebounds per game while sophomore guard Sydney Hill is averaging 14.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
“We hope to continue developing our team chemistry against unfamiliar opponents,” Findley said.